A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time

by

Stephen Hawking

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This philosophical principle arose in response to the question of why the conditions in the universe are just right to support life—whether it is sheer coincidence, or whether the universe has developed specifically to be observed by intelligent beings. Essentially, the principle states, “We see the universe the way it is because we exist.” The weak version of the principle argues that certain regions of space will be conducive to forming intelligent life, and of course those intelligent beings will always wonder why their particular region of the universe has life; essentially, if human beings didn’t exist, we couldn’t wonder why we exist. The strong version of the argument states there could be different regions of the universe or even different universes with differing laws of science of different beginnings. Most of these regions or other universes would not have conditions or scientific laws able to create life, but those that do seem fine-tuned to support life, leaving room for Creator theories. In essence, Hawking states, “the strong anthropic principle would claim that this whole vast construction exists simply for our sake.”

Anthropic principle Quotes in A Brief History of Time

The A Brief History of Time quotes below are all either spoken by Anthropic principle or refer to Anthropic principle. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of A Brief History of Time published in 1988.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Most sets of values would give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty.

Related Characters: God
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Must we turn to the anthropic principle for an explanation? Was it all just a lucky chance? That would seem a counsel of despair, a negation of all our hopes of understanding the underlying order of the universe.

Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Anthropic principle Term Timeline in A Brief History of Time

The timeline below shows where the term Anthropic principle appears in A Brief History of Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...and we could just be living in one of these regions. This is called the anthropic principle . Although it seems improbable that we happen to live in a region or universe... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...form. This could be seen as the divine purpose in the universe, or the strong anthropic principle . (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
There are many challenges posed to the strong anthropic principle . First, if there are other universes, we cannot detect them and they do not... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...universe could not have arisen, however, meaning we might still have to turn to the anthropic principle . (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...sum over histories history offers a comprehensive account of space-time and its contents. Again, the anthropic principle can explain why one history is right rather than others—we know we exist, so life... (full context)
Chapter 9
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Hawking suggests the no boundary universe model and the weak anthropic principle explain why these three arrows all point the same way, and why they exist at... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...then why does the cosmological arrow happen to point toward expansion and not contraction? The anthropic principle offers one answer, as conditions within the contracting phase would not be conducive to life... (full context)
Chapter 11
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...time that we can see happened to flatten out, while the others didn’t. Again, the anthropic principle gives a partial explanation. Two dimensional animals could not exist, as they could not form... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The anthropic principle suggests life is only possible in space-times with the four flat dimensions we are used... (full context)